Dear Guys at the Gym,
I’m so glad that I get to see all of you every day. My 5 pm – 6 pm gang. We all get to hang out in silence. Inches from each other, moving around heavy stuff and ignoring each other’s presences with headphones in.
I know all of your names. Well, at least the ones I made up for you. You know who you are Tattoo Guy, High School Soccer Kid, Dad Always Balancing on Stability Ball, Crossfit Guy Who Does Pull-ups on the Squat Rack, Old Guy with Glasses, and Beardy Trainer Who Works Right After This. The rest of you, don’t worry, I have names for you too.
We’re the best friends who have never met. We know each other so well, that we don’t even need words. When you take out one earbud, point to the bench press and raise your eyebrows, I know you mean Are you done with that? When you inch slowly towards the squat rack while I’m in the middle of a set eying the weights on the side and give me that little cringe smile, I know you mean I’m so sorry to interrupt, but can I borrow those?
To which I respond by widening my eyes and nodding. You know what I mean.
I know we’ve never had a conversation before, but I feel like I know you. I’ve definitely gotten to the gym and thought something along the lines of, huh, High School Soccer Kid isn’t here today. I wonder what he’s up to. Or Tattoo Guy, remember when you used to bring your girlfriend with you all the time? I haven’t seen her in months. Did you guys break up? Why do I care?
Even though we don’t talk much (re: ever), there is one time that we all share an actual moment. At the beginning of the year or as the weather climbs up the thermostat, the gym is infiltrated by new people who are not part of our silent clique.
Of course, we are happy that they are trying out new fitness goals and working to making a positive change in themselves, yadda yadda yadda, but as we stand on the peripheral of the floor, waiting for a bench to open up, we share a few sweet moments of annoyed eye contact.
Or maybe you’re challenging me for the next bench. I’ll still take it. At least we’re acknowledging each other’s existence. We’ll be bro-nodding and be giving close-lipped hey smiles in no time.
Finally, I want to thank you for accepting me into your group. When I switched gyms last fall and came to join you, there was an adjustment period before you let me be one of your own. You were skeptical at first. I was a girl (gross), my weights were smaller than yours, and I’m sure you thought it was just a phase. But after a few months your glances of what is she doing here? transformed to a cool indifference of well shit, I guess the mediocre, ponytail girl who never smiles is sticking around. whatever.
I love you too.